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Russia banking: Alfa male

The perils of marketing to Generation Z.

Morgenshtern flashes the Alfa-Bank card in the controversial YouTube video

Alfa-Bank is the grande dame of Russian lenders. Solid and sober, with an unrivalled 31-year track record, it has traditionally cultivated an image of corporate respectability with sponsorship of book awards, symphony orchestras and stadium gigs by stalwarts such as Elton John.

The problem is that this doesn’t play so well with a younger generation – at least, that is the natural conclusion from the bank’s recent decision to sign up 23-year-old YouTube provocateur and rap superstar Morgenshtern as its “director of youth”.

The appointment is not Alfa’s first association with Morgenshtern. In November, the rapper released a music video in which he visits one of the bank’s branches after dark, is handed a suitcase full of cash and then dances suggestively with the banknotes, three female “tellers” in low-cut tops and a couple of ATMs.

The video apparently achieved its aim, generating 25,000 applications for Alfa’s card

The song’s title – and the bulk of the lyrics – translates as “10 million roubles” ($135,000), which Morgenshtern claims represents his fee from Alfa for the promotion.

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